Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his book Invisible Man, said, ““When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” He could not have uttered a truer statement. While I would disagree with his interpretation of freedom, I am in total agreement as to his basic premise of discovery.
When someone asks the question “who am I” it is a question about identity. This of course begs the question: what then is identity? Identity, simply put, is who you are, and it is comprised of two parts, namely a sense of self and a sense of worth.
When I speak of a sense of self, I am speaking of the core you. For example, I serve many roles. I am a father, professor, minister, and a friend to many. None of these roles, however, tell who I am. My identity is who I am apart from these roles.
When I speak of worth, I am speaking about what makes you feel significant or makes you confident of your value.
I believe there are three ways you and I can establish an identity. The first two ways are identities are what culture supplies. The last way is what only Jesus can supply.
The first way is traditional identity formation. You are who your society says you are. You don’t get to decide what role you will be play in society. For example, in a traditional culture your occupation is decided for you. If your family’s business was to run the country store, your job was to help run the business. Since the business provided a service to the community, you were to subordinate your own desire to work somewhere else and work at the country store for the good of the community. When you did this, you were affirmed by your community.
The second way is modern identity formation, which doesn’t look outside one’s self for identity but inside ones’ self. You get to decide who you are by locating their dreams and feelings and seeking to express them. Whereas in the traditional identity formation, self-denial is the central motivation, in the modern sense self-assertion is the primary motivation.
The third way is Christ-centered identity formation. This means it is not society or yourself that confers to you your identity. It is the identity that Christ has conferred upon you.
In the next seven blog posts, I will summarize seven qualities of a Christ-centered identity that are in the form of “I am” statements. The qualities include:
1. I am a creature
2. I am in Christ
3. I am justified
4. I am adopted
5. I am a new creation
6. I am a saint
7. I am a servant of Christ.